The average customer visits dozens of websites in a single session, yet marketers typically only have visibility over one of them: their own.
A few years ago, this might have been enough. A typical campaign might consist of three elements: an advert for building awareness among a target audience, a landing page with the brand’s value proposition (acting as a click-through destination from the ad), and a checkout page  to register conversions from the landing page.
But the online customer journey  in 2017 is incredibly complex, with dozens of different touchpoints and channels influencing the ultimate decision to purchase from a brand. This makes using a brand’s own website to track customer behavior akin to using a last-touch attribution model : it can never provide the complete picture.
So how can marketers gain visibility over everything that customers do when not on their site?
Clickstream data: A digital footprint
‘Clickstream’ is the name given to the record of a user’s actions on the internet; their ‘digital footprints’, if you will. Clickstream data, therefore, can show in detail exactly where a user goes and what they do, from search engine searches to websites visited, conversions made, and purchases carried out.
This makes it different from cookie-based targeting, which also tracks users’ actions across the web, but only gives visibility over site visits. Moreover, cookie data can be subject to deletion, expiration and blocking – according to comScore data from 2014, 28% of users delete first-party cookies every month, and 37% delete third-party cookies.
Obtaining clickstream data from users without permission is a violation of privacy, but organizations can collect authorized clickstream data from a panel of volunteers who agree to share their browsing activity for market research purposes. Larger panels, with a long lifetime duration for each panelist and low turnover, provide more in-depth data with more nuanced historical insight. And since there’s with no cookie or pixel for the user to block or delete, the consistency and reliability of the data is ensured.
Marketers can use clickstream data to infer vital details such as the user’s demographic information, interests, browsing history and purchasing habits, building up a much more complete picture of their customer and their online activities. They can delve backwards in time to find the very first actions that started a user on their journey, or use predictive modelling to forecast their likely future actions.
Clickstream data allows marketers to understand the journey that leads customers to their brand, and it can also provide visibility over their competitors’ customer journeys as well – giving them an invaluable edge over the competition.
Gaining a holistic view of your customer’s online journey
As a means of tracking user behavior online, clickstream data helps companies identify each customer as a unique individual, assembling the various data points to form a ‘data-driven profile’ of each user.
For any company that wants to be customer-centric, user behavior data is vital. And by giving a full view over path-to-purchase activity, clickstream data allows brands to target customers at any stage of the funnel – from those conducting top-of-funnel search activities, to those carrying out price comparisons or adding products to a shopping cart.
These kinds of insights make it possible for marketers to know exactly where their campaign spend is going – beyond the top-level awareness metrics like clicks and impressions, and data from their own website, that they would normally be restricted to.
Having a granular view over consumer behavior makes it possible not only to precisely identify and target new audiences, but also to understand why and how they are converting as a response to marketing campaigns – making it much easier to prove ROI.
In short, clickstream data can be an invaluable tool for understanding your customer, optimizing user experience, refining the customer journey and targeting new prospects. But how does clickstream-based campaign optimization work in practice?
To find out, download ‘Understanding and Implementing Ad Attribution Beyond Your Landing Page ’, a new white paper by Jumpshot . The paper provides practical insights into how to set up clickstream-based campaign optimization and quantify its impact on your campaigns. Jumpshot uses a 100-million-device consumer panel (50% of which is mobile) to offer deep insights into consumer behavior anywhere on the internet.
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